11 days from £2155pp plus international flights.
Friendly smiling people, prolific wildlife, gorgeous scenery - KwaZulu Natal has it all! You'll get to experience all this on your 11-day odyssey through the province, from Zululand to Tembe near the Mozambique border, across to Kosi Bay on the coast and south to iSimangaliso Wetlands Park.
Highlights include a visit to poignant sites in the Battlefields region, to see where epic conflicts between the Zulus and British occurred and hear stirring tales of heroism and bravery as well as dreadful sacrifice and loss, taking game drives in search of the Big 5, enjoying leisurely boat trips and snorkelling in the Indian Ocean alongside dolphins. You'll have the freedom of the open road as you drive between lodges, which allows you to set your own pace and stop wherever and whenever you want.
We've selected some lovely lodges along the way, so you won't be sacrificing creature comforts. They vary from rustic simplicity to sheer luxury, and include the former dwelling of famous storyteller, a homely inn, spacious safari tent and cosy forest chalets, all en-suite. You'll find viewing decks and swimming pools in each location, and always a special spot for sundowners.
This is a holiday for anyone with a spirit of adventure, a desire to explore, and open to new experiences. It's sure to be one of the most memorable holidays you'll ever take!
On arrival at Johannesburg airport you'll be met and taken to the car hire office to collect your vehicle. From here it's a drive of some 5 hours to Fugitives Drift Lodge in the heart of the historic Anglo-Zulu battlefields region. Unpack your bags and settle in - your holiday has begun in earnest! If you prefer, you can fly from Johannesburg to Durban and collect you hire car there for the slightly shorter drive to Fugitives Drift. There will be an additional charge for this flight. Relax on the terrace after the journey. This afternoon there should be time for a tour of the Isandlwana battlefields site, sure to be a moving experience. Full board
Today you visit another famous battlefield site: Rorkes Drift. This is the follow up to yesterday's tour of Isandlwana, where the Zulu army defeated the British. The story of the subsequent conflict at Rorkes Drift is equally compelling. You learn how a force of just 139 British troops were attacked by over 4000 Zulu warriors, and, against all odds, triumphed. The blend of courage, heroism and loss of life is powerful, and hearing the tale recounted in the very location where the battle took place is utterly riveting. Full board
Today you'll be able to visit a local homestead to meet the Myeni family for a demonstration of stick fighting or the opportunity to sample some authentic local food and drink. From here you have a scenic drive through the Lebombo Mountains, arriving at Ghost Mountain Inn in the mid to late afternoon. Here you can enjoy a relaxing swim in the pool, treat yourself to a spa treatment or, if feeling energetic, explore the area by mountain bike. Breakfast
This morning you have a relaxing cruise on Lake Jozini, one of South Africa's largest dams which lies at the foot of the Lebombo Mountains. This is a scenic setting with dramatic gorges and abundant bird life. You may also spot hippo, crocodile, rhino and elephant. After the cruise you'll drive to Tembe Elephant Park where you stay in a small lodge with cosy tented accommodation. The lodge is part-owned and managed by the local Tembe people, known for their friendly hospitality. Full board
Safari time! You'll set off early this morning for a 4 x 4 game drive in the park. As well as large populations of elephants, Tembe is home to lions, buffalo's, leopards and both black and white rhinos, so has all of the Big 5. Bird life is equally profuse, and your guide will help identify all you see. Return to the lodge for lunch and a rest, maybe enjoying a dip in the pool or watch elephants at the hide. After tea you'll head out on a second game drive which may incorporate sundowners at a specially chosen location. This evening you'll dine in the boma beneath the star-filled African sky. Full board
Your journey continues as you travel to iSimangaliso Wetland Park and your home for the next 2 nights, Kosi Forest Lodge. You will meet a representative from the lodge at an agreed location, where you leave your car at a secure parking place and transfer to an open 4 x 4 vehicle for the final part of the ride. Total journey time is around 90 minutes. The lodge has a lovely tranquil location overlooking a lake and meals are served outdoors on the deck or under the shade of large Albizia trees. You may just want to take things easy this afternoon, or you can take a guided walk to get to know the area. Full board
A day to enjoy all that the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve has to offer. You have a choice of activities. Take to the water on a full day motorised boat trip through the Kosi Lake system, a network of lakes and channels which cover around 18 kms. A picnic lunch is included, as is a swim in the sea and a walk through the famous fish traps at Kosi Bay. Alternatively, you can explore by canoe accompanied by a guide who will point out birds and plants. If you're at the lodge in the late afternoon you can join a guided walk in Raffia Palm Forest. These enormous trees are the largest palms in the world and home to many species of birds. Full board
It's time to leave Kosi Bay. You will drive about 3 hours to a meeting point about an hour from the lodge, where a scheduled 4 x 4 vehicle will pick you up at either midday or 3 pm for the last part of your journey to your beach lodge. Your destination, Thonga Beach Lodge is just a few metres from the bay and the ocean views are simply stunning. Depending on your arrival time you may have time for some kayaking or a guided walk, or just sit back and take in the glorious views. Tonight, you'll enjoy a delicious dinner served on the large, wooden deck. Full board
You'll be spoilt for choice today. The clear ocean waters are ideal for snorkelling and you can explore above the waterline by kayak, while guides are on hand to lead you on local walks. All these activities are included in your stay. For an additional charge (paid locally) you can go scuba diving and enjoy indulgent spa treatments, and if you're here between November and February you may see turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. Full board
Today you can opt for the Open Ocean Experience, weather permitting. You'll set out in a motorboat from the beach in front of the lodge that takes you out into the sea where you may spot dolphins, whales and whale sharks. You'll be able to go swimming and snorkelling to experience the rich marine life. If you prefer you can opt to stay put and enjoy the sun and fine food. However you spend your time, you should round off the day with a trip to Lake Sibaya for sundowner drinks. Full board
Enjoy a leisurely start to the day before your mid-morning transfer to collect your hire car for the drive to Richard's Bay airport, where you drop off the car and check in for your onward flight. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £2155 (ex. international flights)
2019 & 2020 prices (pp sharing, excluding international flights):
01 Nov – 12 Dec 2019 from £2495
10 Jan – 30 Apr 2020 from £2565
01 May – 31 Jul 2020 from £2155
01 Aug – 31 Oct 2020 from £2640
Meet and greet at Johannesburg airport; 10 nights accommodation on a twin share basis; group B hire car from Johannesburg on day 1 to Richards Bay on day 11; 4x4 transfer to Kosi Forest Lodge, from Kosi Forest Lodge to Thona Beach Lodge and from Thonga Beach Lodge; excursions as specified; meals as specified (9 nights full board and 1 night bed and breakfast); Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift battlefileds tours; 2 daily game drives at Tembe Elephant Park; guided canoe trips, guided Raffia Forest walk and Kosi sundowner at Kosi Forest Lodge; use of snorkelling equipment, kayaking, guide walks, cultural tours and sundowners at Lake Sibaya at Thonga Beach Lodge.
International flights; flight from Johannesburg to Durban if needed; visas; travel insurance; meals not specified; all drinks; items of a personal nature; tips
This holiday starts in Johannesburg and ends at Richards Bay. Return flights from the UK start from around £850, depending on season and availability.
Departure dates: This is a tailor made holiday and can begin on the date of your choice, subject to availability.
Comfortable en-suite accommodation owned by the Rattray family, near Rorke's Drift in the Battlefields area.
A privately-owned hotel near Mkhuzi town, which makes a perfect base for exploring the wildlife, scenery and culture of this distinct region.
Kosi Forest Lodge offers comfortable accommodation, good food and a perfect base from which to explore this fascinating area.
A family-friendly tented camp in a prime location in Tembe Elephant Park, known for its big game and abundant bird life.
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Find the best time to visit South Africa
Time: GMT +2 hours
Flight time: There are daily flights from Europe to Johannesburg (about 10 ½ hours direct) and Cape Town (about 11 hours). There is also a good network of domestic flights connecting all main towns.
Language: English is South Africa's main administrative language and is widely spoken. There are also 11 official tribal languages.
Visas: Visas are not required for British passport holders.
Health: No vaccinations are compulsory. Malaria is found in certain areas (mainly Kruger and the east coast towards Mozambique), but not throughout the country.